Spirt & Soul
FATHER, SON and HOLY SPIRIT
When thinking of Spirit there is much confusion around so it is vital to search for truth in this area. I’ve learned over the years, since being enslaved by the alcoholic counterfeit spirit, and subsequent sugar addiction, the utmost importance of being led into all truth by the Holy Spirit whom our Living Creator, the Lord Jesus, sent into the world after He rose from the dead. He destroyed the power of death that we might be delivered from its power (1 Corinthians 15 & 2 Corinthians 5). The Spirit gives life! It is essential to have our soul (mind, emotions & will) in subjection to the Holy Spirit.
Firstly, however it’s of paramount importance to recognise that we ALL need a SAVIOUR! For all people have fallen short, & need rescuing (Romans 3:9-18).
In recovery we often say something beginning with “But for the grace of God, I......” Such statements started with Paul as he recognised that without God’s grace, he never would have achieved any of his success. We must recognise that our success in recovery is from God. When we fail to give the credit to God for what has happened in our life, we negate our progress by forgetting the lessons of its earliest steps. Notice, however that Paul also recognised his own hard work in the process. Recovery is based on the grace of God and His desire to help us, but we still have a part in the equation. We have to work hard! Recovery takes a combination of God’s power and our faithful willingness to obey Him.
Some of the Corinthian believers had begun to question the hope of being resurrected to new life at Christ’s coming. So Paul re-emphasised the importance of the resurrection and the hope it offers to all, even those who are already dead. The greatest expression of God’s power was raising Jesus from the dead. If God could do that, then He has the power to do anything! If God did not raise Jesus from the grave, however, then our God is powerless, and we are lost. Paul affirmed the truth that Jesus did rise from the dead; in so doing he also affirmed that we have access to the greatest power there is - God Himself!
If death is the end of everything, then a selfish, pleasure-seeking lifestyle may be a justifiable alternative. But Paul reminds us that our hope and our recovery lead to an existence beyond the grave. Jesus has destroyed the power of death by His death and resurrection, hallelujah! It is this truth about the resurrection that motivates us to make right choices and leave behind our old way of life. If we do things God’s way we have an eternity of joy and peace to look forward to. If we do things our own way we face an eternity of suffering.
No matter how terrifying our dependency may have become, death is probably still our greatest fear. Sometimes fear of death can motivate us to seek God for help with our destructive problems. Yet our fear of death can also lead us to despair and may actually feed our dependency. Paul reminds us of a fact that can remove our fear of death: Jesus Christ has conquered death. His resurrection conquered death and the “sting” of death, which is sin. With the resurrection power of Jesus Christ at work within us, nothing we do is ever wasted. God can use even our failures & relapses to teach us something for His glory!
Handing our lives over to our Living Creator, the Lord Jesus, is the first step to the beginning of a healthy & fulfilled life. Then it’s His responsibility, with our co-operation, to complete the good work He has begun in us (Philippians 1:6).
This is the beginning of eternal life with Him for all eternity.
The journey has not been promised to be an easy ride from my own experience with childhood illnesses, bereavement at a very early age, addictions, & rejections etc. The obstacles have been many, lack of finding help in the most obvious places when trying to get well from addiction to alcohol and refined sugar; lack of family support when bringing up my children and going through a minefield of denominational obstacles searching for truth. Ultimately finding truth in the Bible, in Jesus alone and trusting in Him alone and not in man! Romans chapter 1 warns us of the dangers of exalting man & of worshipping the creature rather than our Creator. As does Jeremiah 17.
My deliverance from the fear of man, which brings a snare has been so important. Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but to trust the Lord means safety (Proverbs 29:25. New Living translation).
The Lord by His Holy Spirit is leading believers to meet in small groups who love Him & His Word. The Word was made flesh & dwelt amongst us (John 1:14). This focuses on relationships with a network of believers ( the remnant church) and can encompass the twelve step life recovery steps with the scriptures. The Life Recovery Bible is possibly the most important Bible I own! In the 12 step life recovery fellowships we are all 'equal trusted servants'.
Religion never sets anyone free, only Jesus can do that. He had more trouble with the religious leaders of His time than anyone else, in the end they crucified Him! However that was all part of God’s plan. Hey ho He rose from the dead and we can also share in His resurrection life! If you abide in My Word and My Words abide in you then you will know the Truth & the Truth will set you free (John 8:32). Jesus mixed with the tax collectors & prostitutes, they were His friends, they loved Him because they knew He loved them & had the healing power to set them free. Religious people tend to be self righteous & don’t recognise they need a Saviour.
I rebelled against going to church when I was about 14, after attending confirmation classes & wondering what it was all about! I’d never heard the whole counsel of God either at the Roman Catholic Convent, or the Anglican Church which my family attended on Sundays. Having said that however I did love singing some of the beautiful old hymns & I now realise the authors of some of those hymns really knew the Lord.
When I was 15 years old in 1962, that gives away my age, I took the family Bible down off the shelf with curiosity as I must have associated that with ‘church’, however my parents never read it, although they attended St. Mary’s Anglican Church, Bickleigh in Devon where I was brought up, every Sunday. I wrote my name & birthday date 30th June 1962, on the inside page, looked inside the front cover and saw my great grandfathers name written there, “William Alfred Bartlett, April 28th, 1874, from his Grandpa W.E.B.”
Underneath that inscription was written: “Search the Scriptures” John 5 verse 39.
So being a very curious child I managed to find John’s Gospel and looked up that verse in his Bible which reads: “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me”. Verse 40 “And ye will not come to me that ye might have life”. Verse 41 “I receive not honour from men”. Verse 42 “But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you”. Verse 43 “I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive Me not: if another shall come in his own name , him ye will receive”. Verse 44 “How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that comes from God only?”
This very old Bible is very precious as it led me to search the scriptures many years later, after receiving the Holy Spirit. I have had it completely renovated by a book repairing company in Hampshire. This was quite an expensive task and worth every penny!
One of my character defects was looking into the past and saying ‘If only’. Now I’m resigned to the fact of my powerlessness over so many issues. Ironically the more I admit my powerlessness the more the Lord steps in with His solutions. It’s all about faith and trust, faith is the opposite of fear & perfect love casts out fear!
The Lord is wanting us to be led by His Holy Spirit day by day, in fact hour by hour. The 12 step life recovery programmes have helped me to do this & to bring freedom into my life. Many organisations becomes corrupt at the top echelons whereas life recovery groups are living organisms & bring those in recovery close together in openness & transparency as we fulfill the scripture in James 5:16 “Confess your faults to one another and pray for each other so that you may be healed! In the life recovery fellowships we are all equal trusted servants.
When I was in Jerusalem I was led to visit Lazarus' tomb. The tomb itself is situated at the bottom of maybe 30 or more steps, its very narrow, damp and depressing. The story of Lazarus is found in John's gospel Chapter 11. Lazarus was sick, he lived in Bethany with his sisters Mary and Martha, this is the Mary who poured the expensive perfume on the Lord's feet and wiped them with her hair. Her brother. Lazarus, was sick so the two sisters sent a message to Jesus telling him 'Lord the one you love is very sick'. But when Jesus heard about it he said 'Lazarus' sickness will not end in death. No, it is for the glory of God. I, the Son of God, will receive glory from this'. Although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, he stayed where he was for the next two days and did not go to them. Finally after 2 days, he said to his disciples, 'lets go to Judea again.' John Chapter 11 (Verses 1-7). Then he said 'our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but now I will go and wake him up'. The disciple said 'Lord, if he is sleeping, that means he is getting better!'. They thought Jesus meant that Lazarus was having a good night's rest, but Jesus meant Lazarus had died. Then he told them plainly 'Lazarus is dead. And for your sake, I am glad I wasn't there, because this will give you another opportunity to believe in me. Come let's go see him' (Verses 11-14). When Jesus arrived at Bethany, he was told that Lazarus had already been in his grave for 4 days. Bethany was only a few miles down the road from Jerusalem (Verses 17-18). Martha said to Jesus, 'Lord if you had been here, my brother would not have died but even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask'. Jesus told her 'your brother will rise again'. 'Yes', Martha said, 'When everyone else rises, on resurrection day'. Jesus told her ' I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die like everyone else, will live again. They are given eternal life for believing in me and will never perish. Do you believe this Martha?'. 'Yes Lord'. 'I have always believed you are the Messiah, the son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.' (Verses 21-27). And again Jesus was deeply troubled. Then they came to the grave. It was a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance. 'Roll the stone aside', Jesus told them. But Martha the dead man's sister said 'Lord, by now the smell will be terrible because he has been dead for 4 days'. And Jesus responded 'didn't I tell you that you would see God's glory if you believe?'. So they rolled the stone aside, then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, 'Father, thank you for hearing me. You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so they will believe you sent me'. Then Jesus shouted, 'Lazarus, come out!' And Lazarus came out, bound in grave clothes, his face wrapped in a head cloth. Jesus told them,'unwrap him and let him go!'.
This last verse is very symbolic of the 12-step life recovery programmes. When Jesus shouted 'Lazarus, come out' (some Bible versions say 'come forth') this was a super natural manifestation (a spiritual awakening), as you remember Lazarus tomb is down about 30-odd steps below the ground and Lazarus was bound in grave clothes so it was impossible for him to walk up those steps. When he was supernaturally transported from the grave to the top of the steps Jesus told his disciples,'you loosen him and let him go'. This is precisely what we do in 12-step recovery groups. We confess our faults to one another and pray for each other so that we may be healed (James 5:16). We help each other to get out of our grave clothes! Note: there is no mention in the Bible of going to a priest in a confessional box for absolution. The reason for this is because the Bible says 'we are the priesthood of all believers' (1:Peter:2:9). A chosen race, a Royal priesthood (Exodus 19:6).
Because we are in a spiritual war (Ephesians 6) we must be aware that we don’t fight flesh & blood & the enemy of our souls very often uses unregenerate and pagan people to attack us. 2 Timothy 3:12 & 13 “Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men & impostors will grow worse & worse. They will go on deceiving others, and they themselves will be deceived. We are certainly seeing this all around us in these last days!
Jesus said “When the son of man returns it will be like it was in Noah’s day. In those days before the flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat. People didn’t realise what was going to happen until the Flood came and swept them all away (Matthew 24:37-39). It certainly seems like we are living in these days. Wickedness & paganism seem to be increasing. Noah must have felt he & his family were quite alone in their venture.
The Lord’s Word in Hebrews 12 God’s discipline reveals His Love. Verse 25 - 29 “See to it that you obey God, the one who is speaking to you. For if the people of Israel did not escape when they refused to listen to Moses, the earthly messenger, how terrible our danger if we reject the One who speaks to us from heaven! When God spoke from Mount Sinai his voice shook the earth, but now he makes another promise: “Once again I will shake not only the earth but the heavens also.” This means that the things on earth will be shaken, so that only eternal things will be left. Since we are receiving a Kingdom that cannot be destroyed, let us be thankful and please God by worshipping him with holy fear and awe. For our God is a consuming fire.
The Bible says that this life is preparation for heaven & that it’s through much tribulation we will enter His Kingdom (Acts 14:22).
The complete Serenity Prayer, the short version is used in the 12 step Life Recovery programmes, is one of my favourites: God Grant Me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can And wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time, Enjoying one moment at a time, Accepting hardship as the pathway to Peace. Taking, as Jesus did This sinful world as it is And not as I would have it. Trusting that You will make all things right If I surrender to your Will. So that I may be reasonably happy in this life And supremely happy with You forever in the next. Amen (Reinhold Neibur).
Another of my favourite verses comes from a Christmas Carol entitled “Away in a Manger”: ‘Be near me Lord Jesus I ask thee to stay, Close by me forever & love me I pray. Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care & fit us for heaven to live with Thee there’.
We learn to let go and to trust God, to receive His love for us and to come to know Him in all fullness and to appropriate into our lives everything which He wants us to experience as a result of the Atonement which He purchased for us through His suffering on the cross at Calvary, which was a once and for all sacrifice! He did this because He loves us so much. We all need a Saviour because, as descendants of Adam, we have all fallen short of perfection. We still continue to fall short even when we have committed our life to Jesus (the second Adam). Christians are not perfect, just forgiven for past, present and future transgressions. The atonement was a once and for all sacrifice. However the good news is that when Jesus ascended into heaven He sent His Holy Spirit into the world. The Holy Spirit's work is to help us understand the Bible and to bring conviction (not condemnation) of sin and of righteousness and of judgement into our lives. The sanctification process has just begun when we receive the Lord Jesus as our Saviour and make Him the Lord of our life.
The enemy of our souls, Satan, is trying to hinder us from becoming free and knowing the Truth ( Jesus will set us free), He is the Way, the Truth & the Life and no one comes to the Father except through Him. We will start to know more Truth (if you abide in My Word (Holy Bible) and My Words abide in you, then you will know the Truth and the Truth will set you free (John 8:31). Then we will begin to experience more joy, peace, love, abundance and happiness which will flow into our lives as we put into practice being an open channel to flow out to others. I struggled for 20 years in Church denominations, not being led to James 5:16 - Confess your faults to one and other and pray for one and other so you will be healed! I Also realised, because of some persecution and abuse from within denominations, these people also needed James 5:16. It was only when I had gone through a divorce, got into 12-step recovery groups and experienced unconditional love, that I began to heal emotionally.
When we pray for the peace of Jerusalem and support Israel financially, especially those ministries which help the Jews return to their land, then He will bless us Psalm 122.6 Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem "May they prosper who love you the Holy City."
Throughout the Bible we continually learn that the blessing falls on the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Therefore this includes all of us believers in Yeshua, (Jesus) who are grafted into Israel (Romans 9, 10 and 11). If we bless Israel God will bless us. If we curse Israel then we automatically forfeit the blessing which God wishes to bring into our lives. God will not break his covenant which he made with Abraham and his descendants (Genesis 12:3).
The Lord promised to bring the Hebrew people back to their own land, after they had been scattered to the ends of the earth because of their idol worship and sacrificing their children to pagan gods (Jeremiah 29:4-14 ; 32:35). He is doing this to vindicate his Holy name (Ezekiel 36) He is a God of love and because nobody could keep the law (the old covenant) He sent Jesus to die in our place and to pay the price, this is the new covenant in Jesus' blood. It is through our believing in God's loving forgiveness and in Christs power over sin and death that we are saved, saved and forgiven for our transgressions, past, present and future, However the work of the Holy Spirit is an on going and lifetime process of sanctification bringing with it conviction, not condemnation.